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Scand J Psychol. 2017 Dec;58(6):510-518. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12395.

A controlled early group intervention study for unaccompanied minors: Can Expressive Arts alleviate symptoms of trauma and enhance life satisfaction?

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Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo, Norway.
Regional Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Eastern and Southern Norway, Oslo, Norway.
Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.


This is the first controlled study of an expressive arts group intervention with unaccompanied minor asylum seeking children. The aim of the study was to examine whether such an intervention may alleviate symptoms of trauma and enhance life satisfaction and hope. One hundred forty five unaccompanied minor refugee boys with their stated age between 15 and 18 were allocated into a 10 session 5 weeks manualized expressive arts intervention (EXIT) or a life as usual (LAU) control group. The participants were assessed at onset and 4 times over a period of 25 months with a battery of instruments measuring post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), general psychological distress (HSCL-25A), current life satisfaction (CLS) and expected life satisfaction (ELS). The instruments were presented in the participants' native languages, using touch-screen laptops and the computer program Multilingual Computer Assisted Interview (MultiCASI). There were significant time by group interactions in favor of the EXIT group for PTSS and CLS. At the end of the follow up the EXIT group had higher life satisfaction and hope for the future than the LAU group. A manualized EXIT group intervention can have a beneficial effect on helping minor refugee boys to cope with symptoms of trauma, strengthen their life satisfaction and develop hope for the future. Our findings support previous studies showing that the arts may help people in reconstructing meaning and connection with others by focusing on resources and creativity.


Expressive Arts; group intervention; hope; life satisfaction; trauma symptoms; unaccompanied asylum-seeking boys

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